SR 22 Accident

I flew with Walt today and learned of another SR22 that went down near Duluth yesterday with 2 persons on board, apparently after striking the tops of trees at high speed in the wee hours of the morning in very cold temperatures. Speculation is that it was the result of reckless flying rather than equipment or weather related issues. If this is the case, I think its another example of pilots finding the Cirrus very easy to fly and looking for more excitement, forgetting that they are flying an airplane, and all the precautions that applied when they flew their old high wing still apply. I invite your comments.

More to come…

One speculation does not deserve another.

Speculation is the least fair of all the reactions we might have.

Right now, being fair is the least we can do.

  • Mike.

Here is a story from the Minneapolis Tribune about the victims who were on the way to see their sons’ hockey game.

My heart goes out to the family of the victims and their community.

Rich Fink

Here was the weather at the time of the accident from the preliminary report. No flight plan was filed. Ceilings seem relatively low for VFR, but certainly manageable. No other details of the accident were provided.


Activity: Unknown Phase: Unknown Operation: General Aviation

Departed: GRAND RAPIDS, MN Dep Date: Dep. Time:
Destination: SAINT CLOUD, MN Flt Plan: NONE

No new info here:



Consider that VFR rules require 500 below the clouds, if you are flying in the dark encountering any of the few clouds at 1100 feet, you would have to be at 600 feet to be legal. Even with the “real” ceiling at 1800, you have to be at 1300 feet for this trip to fly VFR legally.
I, for one, never feel comforatble flying below 1500 feet for ANY trip, let alone in the dark.
This is not a trip to take VFR only!

In reply to:

Ceilings seem relatively low for VFR, but certainly manageable.

Manageable? You’re kidding, right? Clouds at 1100 feet and 1800 feet in the dark of night, in an unpopulated area (no ground lights), VFR? The moon was only 13 degrees above the horizon (thanks, Roger) and was likely obscured by the 1800 foot deck anyway. There are countries that don’t allow ANY VFR night flight, and, while I value our freedom of choice here, they have a valid point.

I like to get over 3-4,000 feet at least when I fly.

Altitude is your life insurance, Airspeed is your life!!!

I think of this quote every time I fly.

The higher you fly the less things there are to hit as well


It’s been awhile since I have reviewed the FAR’s on this but isn’t the rule to just stay clear of clouds when below 2000’?

Like Mason, I feel better with a lot more clear distance between me and the ground. Scud running is generally unsafe at any time, day or night, instrument rated or not.


No Gordon, I wasn’t kidding. I said the weather should have been manageable…I did not say the VFR flight was advisable. But I confess, I hadn’t given any thought to whether it was day or night. It occurred at 6am…hence, probably dark at that latitude this time of year. If it was dark, I’d say it was very foolish to take off VFR in those conditions. On the other hand, if there was 10 mile vis. and ground lights or breaking daylight, I’d say a VFR flight in those cloud conditions should have been manageable. I don’t think it would have been advisable either way.

Dave, yes, it was indeed dark. Likely very dark. I had assumed you knew this. Here’s the almanac data:
Sun and Moon Data for One Day
U.S. naval Observatory
Astronomical Applications Department
The following information is provided for Hill City, Aitkin County, Minnesota (longitude W93.6, latitude N47.0):
18 January 2003 Central Standard Time
Begin civil twilight 7:20 a.m.
Sunrise 7:54 a.m.
Sun transit 12:25 p.m.
Sunset 4:57 p.m.
End civil twilight 5:31 p.m.
Moonrise 3:58 p.m. on preceding day
Moon transit 12:18 a.m.
Moonset 8:30 a.m.
Moonrise 5:08 p.m.
Moonset 9:09 a.m. on following day
Full Moon on 18 January 2003 at 4:48 a.m. Central Standard Time.
At the time of the accident, the moon was 13 degrees above the Northwest horizon, according to Roger Freedman, our resident astronomer. Moonlight would have been minimal at that angle, especially since there was a cloud deck above. Morning twilight was still almost an hour away. Rural area.
While we know something about the weather conditions and degree of darkness, we do not know what happened at this early juncture. It could be that they were on top and something else caused the accident. Maybe radar data will help us learn more.

What we do know is that five kids are without a father, which is just incredibly sad and tragic. [:(]

In reply to:

like to get over 3-4,000 feet at least when I fly.

Ah, you flatlanders! Not too much to hit in South Carolina. In SoCal, 4000 feet is a ticket into the “foothills!” Totally agree - higher is better.

Old saying, the three most useless things are the runway behind you, the air above you and the airspeed you used to have.

Humm, I flew to Oklahoma and back this weekend. The highest terrain I encountered during the entire flight was IN South Carolina and North Carolina! [:)]

Not to mention the air in the fuel tanks.

Apparently it has been a while since you’ve reviewed the FARs. I strongly encourage you to peruse FAR Part 91:

and look in particular at Part 91.155, “Basic VFR weather minimums.”

This would be a good time to review all of Part 91 while you’re at it.


Just a speculation, but could the Cirrus’ terrain warning capabilities lull a pilot into complacency? How good is it? (Not very in this case, by the looks of it.)